Ever stopped to think about how many drugs you’ve taken in your life? Recently I took a slew of unneeded drugs to the police station to drop them off in the drug container. They give you a plastic bag in which you pour the pills, then slip them into the tray and that’s that. They’re gone forever.
It’s not good to dump drugs down the drain or to toss them out anywhere else. The chemicals in them seep into the water system one way or another. We’ll all grow third eyes if everyone does that.
At a young age I could not swallow pills. My mother had to bury them in food or help me choke them down with honey or some other substance. Along with a shy bladder and a bit of anal retention related to bathroom issues that lasted all the way into college out of shyness and anxiety, the pill-swallowing problem was finally conquered out of necessity.
After college I partied so hard while running 60-80 miles per week that my body rebelled. I developed migraine headaches that were also probably hormone-driven. That resulted in a Tylenol with Codeine prescription so powerful my arm went numb.
That taught me how powerful prescription drugs can be. I was already familiar with the inebriating power of alcohol and marijuana from my partying days. Somehow it still stunned me that pain-killing drugs could also mess with my body and mind.
In my late twenties I developed a painful prostate infection that required painkillers as well. In the process of dealing with those prostate issues, I learned that my body was highly sensitive to drugs like caffeine or antihistamines. That walnut gland seized up whenever I absorbed stimulants into my body. The doctor told me, “Cut out the caffeine, and try to have frequent sex.” I asked for a prescription for that. The doctor wrote one out but warned, “If that doesn’t convince your wife, take care of yourself.” Doctor’s orders.
In my opinion, sex is a drug all unto itself. In those teens and twenties, the difference in brain function between a man that has not had sex and one that has just ejaculated is the difference between the sun and moon. Sometimes I was so horny my brain would not even function. The creative process could not take place with that much sex on the brain. I learned to deal with that one way or another. It helped the prostate along the way.
During my late wife’s eight years of cancer treatment I learned to organize and dispense all types of drugs for her. There were painkillers and blood thinners, drugs for infection prevention and drugs to stimulate red blood cell production. One drug gave her an allergic reaction so bad I thought she was going to die. When she had a nervous breakdown after her first recurrence, I guided her to the psychiatrist office to advocate for an anxiety medicine. The amount of extra or unused drugs that accumulated after all those years filled two gallon bags full of pills that the hospice nurses hauled away.
During those years, I grew expert at administering different types of drugs to her through infusion and injection. That skill came in handy the year after she passed away when one of my fingers developed a danger infection in my finger from a sliver that pierced my skin during yard work. The germs sank into the finger so deeply they almost penetrated the bone.
The hand doctor first prescribed antibiotics. But when that didn’t conquer the infection, he operated to open the middle digit of my left hand and flush it with powerful antibiotics. Then they sent me home with a bunch of poles and tubes and told me to self-infuse the drugs that arrived daily in bags delivered by a medical supplier. The infusion process took three hours to complete. I complained about that after a couple of weeks and they told me, “Oh, we have something you can do in ten minutes.”
I replied, “You have to be fucking kidding me.” The nurse on the line was not amused.
I’m a reasonably healthy guy overall, but during my wife’s chemo I took Lorazepam to fight the stress and anxiety of caregiving. I was also caregiver to my father, a stroke victim who was required to take a litany of drugs to sustain his health. These had to be arranged in trays for daily consumption. When I arrived one day, my father had the pills spread out over the table and was picking out the ones he thought he should take. I immediately called a local pharmacy and begged them to place his medicines in self-contained packets that he could ingest on his own. His live-in caregiver appreciated that. But it only lasted a few months until his insurance company demanded that we order all his prescription medicines by mail. They would not arrive in packets. We were back to square one. Fuck insurance companies. Fuck them.
Clearly drugs are not something you should mess around with on your own. During my battle with a tooth infection two summers ago, I took so much Ibuprofen my kidneys started to ache. That’s never a good sign. Nor is pain in your liver, or a palpitation of the heart or sudden loss of vision due to drugs. One can even lose the sense of hearing or taste if drugs are taken incorrectly. The disclaimers at the end of those drug commercials are enough to scare you to death, all on their own.
My favorite drug remains exercise. You can take it in any dose that you like. It cures many ills and prevents a few more. It doesn’t require you to swallow anything but a bit of hydration. All it takes is a little nutrition and some spit to get it down. Granted, exercise doesn’t come in a bottle or a jar. You can’t rub it on your skin like a salve or snort it like a line of coke. It’s still a powerful drug of sorts. I’ve taken a lotta drugs in my lifetime. With luck, I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.